The Argentine who knows more about the Beetle: a craftsman who recovers Volkswagen legends in Temperley

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Daniel Jacobi and a Volkswagen Beetle, outside his Temperley workshop.

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The The Volkswagen Beetle was not a global phenomenon; it was so much more. Data, not guesswork: just over 21,500,000 units of the original model were produced between 1945 and 2003. Putting all those cars on the line, they totaled 84,000 kilometers, the equivalent of two turns of the Earth across the Equator.

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The story of one of the most iconic models in the industry spreads around the world. It is so In a corner of the southern suburbs, in Temperley, there is an Argentine who has been the Oracle of the Scarab in the country for more than two decades.. So much so that from his workshop dozens of vehicles have been restored that have also traveled across the border. A single copy.

Entering the Los Hermanos laboratory in the San José neighborhood is a journey back in time. It is the space in which Daniel Jacobi, 51, has dedicated himself since 1994 to the repair and enhancement of Beetle models. Or the Vocho for the Mexicans. Or Fusca for the Brazilians. Or the Beetle for the Anglo-Saxons. From him, a convertible that he exhibits like a museum piece (that is), to those that are in the process of being repaired. He receives them, for the most part, in a serious state of decay AND returns them ready to take to the streets and even to win prizes.

Jacobi drives a Volkswagen through the streets of Temperley.

Jacobi drives a Volkswagen through the streets of Temperley.

Your clients know that the job will take several months, even up to a year if the unit is badly deteriorated, but they are also aware that they will take what they came for: the result of word of mouth that led them to knock on this door. laboratory in via Senillosa or contact its current owner.

Because Daniel Jacobi is the one who continued the family business. In 1994 a tragedy occurred that completely changed his course: Guillermo, his elder brother, who worked in the shop with Godofredo, his father, died. “By personal choice I gave up everything that was mine and I planted myself next to my parents as if to accompany them in the worst moment of our life”, he says Clarione. He quit his job at a men’s boutique and immersed himself in a job he didn’t like.

The back room of Lomas de Zamora's workshop.

The back room of Lomas de Zamora’s workshop.

“Soon after, I was lucky enough to meet a fanatic person, tired of these machines, and I was awakened by a spark I did not know. In other words, I personally didn’t like this job, it never caught my attention. It can be said that genetically I did not feel it, and I realized it today without this I don’t know what my life would have been like. It is truly something that I adore passionately, sometimes even obsessively.”, He admits.

Beetle, from popular car to collector’s item

The origin of the Beetle does not occupy a pretty place in modern history. On the contrary, it was a piece created in the middle of the Nazi regime as part of the propagation mechanism. Adolf Hitler he asked his friend Ferdinand Porsche the development of a vehicle that, for the price, could be affordable for most in Germany. Indeed, it was called Volks-Wagen, which means people’s car.

It was presented in 1938 but at the outbreak of Second World War interrupted the mass production plan. In fact, he survived Nazism: after the fall of the Third Reich, its production began on December 27, 1945. There is no car in history that has passed as a single generation for so long: it has only had style tweaks in the past 58 years until it was discontinued in 2003 to leave only the New Beetle standing. finished in Puebla. on 10 July 2019.

Many of these 21,529,464 units of the original Beetle have undergone the restoration process at the Los Hermanos workshop. The facade has only a Volkswagen logo. Inside are a dozen cars, the ones that got there mostly by word of mouth.

The relationship with VW began in 1995. A doctor from Lomas de Zamora, who took the vehicle to have it repaired, told him they should take advantage of the work they had done there. “You can’t waste your father’s work,” he advised him. Jacobi inherited all the good things his father did, from the almost goldsmith work to the passion in the workshop historically dedicated to sheet metal and painting.

Daniel Jacobi, inside the Combi, with his father - on the left - and an employee of those years in the workshop.

Daniel Jacobi, inside the Combi, with his father – on the left – and an employee of those years in the workshop.

That 1956 Beetle was the first one he got his hands on. And that has given way to a kind of atelier of volkswagen. “My father was in charge of doing everything that was chassis and bodywork, that is the bodywork that is commonly called bodybuilder. And I devoted myself to painting and the theme of repairing accessories. Evidently the car came out at the first level, because thanks to that car and the other one that I mounted in parallel, from then on I never go below four or five units, always at least in the workshop. At 51 he continues to learn every day. People think I’m a genius or know too much about what I do. But I know that every day I learn a little more and I’ll retire, retire or die and keep learning, ”she admits.

Beyond his rhetoric, he is in practice recognized as a consecrated man. Indeed, three of his works have been awarded in Auto Clásica, the most important fair in the country and in the region. Among these they recognized it for a 1948 Beetle, “the oldest of those in Argentina”, and for a Kubelwagen, a German military vehicle which, when restored, discovered it had M16 shrapnel explosions. In any case, the car he likes most is his own: a 1953 Beetle convertible that makes a fine show in his workshop and of which, he says, “there are only five left in the world”.

Craft work in Temperley’s workshop

He says he will continue to learn until the end of his days, but is able to describe in detail the characteristics of the different restylings that the Beetle has had over the years. Clients believe him so much that they only listen and stick to what Jacobi tells them. From the budget for the restoration to the color it should be painted with. “Many times we find a color indicated in the catalog that is very different from the one we found on the sheet,” he says.

Customers from different parts of the country passed through the workshop in the San José de Temperley neighborhood. From a first virtual diagnosis we move on to receiving the car and face-to-face review. “The machine is completely disarmed and everything is controlled”, point. Bodywork repairs and painting are done piece by piece, canvas by canvas.

A Beetle at the beginning of the restoration process.

A Beetle at the beginning of the restoration process.

A) Yes, working hours “can vary from my eight month job, ten months to one year”, which is also affected by the zeal with which it restores them, so much so that it only has two employees. He clarifies that “other factors may come into play, such as the delay that can occur in bringing spare parts from abroad, which mostly come from the United States” but there are also “from England, Italy, Germany or from France “, as they are” parts belonging to the old original warehouse “.

Its limit is the transformation with profile optimization. “If it comes to altering the original vehicle model, I will disagree. The customer knows that if he brings me a car I don’t make strange changes, not even by accident, even if they pay me triple ”, says Jacobi. In this way, he has turned down opportunities, like the day they wanted to turn a Beetle sedan into a convertible. “What I try to explain to the customer is: ‘Look, it will never stop being a replica of an original Beetle convertible. You devalue it, you lose its real value,'” he says. And he didn’t.

Jacobi with a 1953 Switter Karmann Cabriolet.

Jacobi with a 1953 Switter Karmann Cabriolet.

Tierra del Fuego, Jujuy, Mendoza, Rosario, Córdoba, Chubut and even the United States are some of the destinations where you can find the restored Beetles from the Los Hermanos laboratory. Born and raised in the neighborhood, married and father of two children in whom he tries to instill the same thing he got from his father, Daniel Jacobi, the same man who sold menswear nearly three decades ago, today cannot imagine a different life than he has now..

“The truth, after my parents and my children, is this. I don’t mean this in a pejorative sense. It’s real. I mean, it’s my ground thread, it’s my daily therapy, it’s what I love most in my life and what makes me proud. And as I always say, if I have to leave this plane next year or 20 years from now, I’m happy because I left a mark on something and the mark I left on this car gave me a chance to have done something that not everyone would. I could have done it and obviously made people feel very good, ”he reflects.

Stop for a few minutes in the middle of your laboratory, observe the cars and the liturgy of the Beetle and Volkswagen that decorate each of its wallsUnderstand.

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